BMW i5 Nostokana: Esther Mahlangu’s Art Transformed

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BMW i5 Nostokana Esther Mahlangu's Art Transformed

The BMW i5 Nostokana combines German sobriety with African tradition, making its debut at the Frieze Los Angeles art fair as a tribute to South African artist Esther Mahlangu.

This unique BMW i5 Nostokana showcases the next level of car customization, leaving fans eager for its potential production. Named after the artist’s first son, it stands as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, featuring BMW’s color-change technology developed in collaboration with Esther Mahlangu and E Ink.

Esther, known for her 1991 BMW Art Car, was the first woman and African artist to create one. At 88, she was invited to infuse her artistry into this project.

BMW i5 Nostokana Esther Mahlangu's Art Transformed

Employing electrophoretic color changes, the car transforms into a dynamic canvas. Esther Mahlangu is intrigued by the fusion of modern technology with her art, expanding its appeal to new audiences.

Supervised by Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, the model boasts 1,349 laser-cut sections of attached film, each electronically animated.

E Ink film, housing millions of microcapsules with color particles, facilitates color shifts when an electric voltage is applied. The meticulous application of the film onto curved surfaces posed the primary challenge for the BMW team.

The accompanying sound, composed by Renzo Vitale, BMW Group’s Creative Director, Sound, complements the i5 Flow Notokana’s animations. It incorporates sequences of Esther Mahlangu’s voice, sounds of her painting tools, and the BMW i5’s touchscreen operation signal.

The BMW i5 Nostokana follows in the footsteps of BMW’s earlier ventures into color-change technology, notably the iX Flow in 2022 and the i Vision Dee in 2023. However, with its array of colors and patterns, the i5 Nostokana represents the closest integration of such technology to series production.

Before potential production, the BMW i5 Nostokana will be showcased at the Frieze Los Angeles art fair, while the 1991 art car will be exhibited in Cape Town.


By Annie Linardos

I'm a journalist student and completed my masters in Journalism and Mass Communication. With a strong track record as an intern at Mathrubhumi News and The New Indian Express as a reporter and content writer, I'm creative, motivated, and have a keen eye for the truth and attempting to use the expertise and talents to contribute to the emerging field of journalism. I have also been working as a freelance writer and have the capability of producing interesting and bold articles.

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